We had a look at Flashforge’s Finder 3D printer, which is designed for introductory 3D printing.
Flashforge is one of those 3D printing companies that seems to have at least one of everything, ranging from large industrial-capable machines to those less powerful. In this case, we looked their “Finder” 3D printer, intended for use by “home and education users”.
The simple but effective visual design of this unit reveals the theme of its objectives: keep things simple. For many people, use of a typical 3D printer is a daunting task, and such effects can even inhibit use. Flashforge is attempting to overcome those obstacles by producing a device that theoretically any reasonable person could operate.
The Finder uses only non-toxic PLA, the simplest extrusion material you can print, as it doesn’t warp and require a heated build plate that might add to operational complexity – and safety. It’s 140 x 140 x 140mm build volume should be more than sufficient for any beginner 3D printing experiments.
One of the key ways Flashforge has simplified the machine is through its color touch screen, where the operator controls the machine. Here you can see there are only a few icons representing commands, and it’s pretty clear what they do.
While the machine is supposed to be easy to use, there is one thing the user must do: level the build plate. However, Flashforge makes this easy by using a semi-automated leveling procedure. As the leveling procedure is executed, the machine will make sounds when perfect leveling is achieved: there’s a sensor on the extruder that determines plate position.
Another interesting feature is the slide out build plate, enabling the operator to remove the printed objects in a comfortable place, rather than prying off prints from within the machine.
One final ease-of-use feature may be a bit controversial: the Finder uses proprietary cartridges for its supply of plastic. These 600g cartridges theoretically simplify the operations, which goes along with the machine’s theme, but could cost a bit more to use.